Exploring Israeli literature in English translation. Host Marcela Sulak takes you through Israel’s literary countryside, cityscapes, and psychological terrain, and the lives of the people who create it.
In his essay, “The Desire to be Gisella,” Grossman ponders the root of our fear of the “other” in ourselves and in those we love, and he thinks of authorship as a mad rebellion against this fear.
David Grossman, “The Desire to be Gisella.” Writing in the Dark, Essays on Politics and Literature. Translated by Jessica Cohen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
This week, Marcela takes a step back from the literature itself to look at the language of the words we use. The idea of the podcast, Israel in Translation, is that the works discussed were written originally in a language other than English—indeed, in the writer’s native language. But one of the realities of our age—or rather—one of the realities of literature—is that often poets and writers do not write in their first language. O...
In 2014, historian Fania Salzberger Oz, and her father, the late writer Amos Oz, paired up to write a book which is “a nonfiction, speculative, raw, and occasionally playful attempt to say something a bit new on a topic of immense pedigree... the relationship of Jews with words.”
Set in a rural village prior to the creation of the state of Israel, The Blue Mountain describes a community of eastern European immigrants as they pioneer life in a new land. Narrated by Baruch, a grandson of one of the founding fathers of the village, the novel offers not only a fascinating account of the hardships experienced by the Jewish pioneers, but is also extremely funny and imaginative. It is arranged as a series of vigne...
On this episode, Marcela features the poems of a fascinating writer whose pen name was Avot Yeshurun. He published his first book of poems in 1942, and his last book appeared in 1992, on the day before he died.
Marcela shares the second installment of a three-part podcast on Ayalet Tsabari’s important and beautiful memoir, The Art of Leaving. Although it was written in English, Tsabari’s native language is Hebrew. This episode gives us a glimpse of Israelis from Yemen, whose stories are so rarely told.
Ayelet Tsabari, The Art of Leaving. Harper Collins, 2019.
On this episode, Marcela highlights The Lover, the first novel by A. B. Yehoshua, which he wrote in 1977. Yehoshua has been called the Israeli Faulkner, perhaps because of this novel. It is narrated from the point of view of each of its six main characters.
The Lover by A. B. Yehoshua. Translated by Philip Simpson. Doubleday & Co., 1978.
Meir Shalev has been featured on two previous episodes. Four Meals is his third of eight novels. He’s also published 7 works of nonfiction and 13 children’s books.
Four Meals is the story of Zayde, his enigmatic mother Judith, and her three lovers. When Judith arrives in a small, rural village in Palestine in the early 1930s, three men compete for her. Globerman, the cunning, coarse cattle dealer who loves women, money, and flesh J...
On this episode, Marcela revisits Batya Gur, who introduced the murder mystery into Hebrew literature. Gur’s highbrow mysteries are often set in closed communities that mirror issues in the greater Israeli society.
You can hear a previous podcast on her life and literary influence, as well as an excerpt from, Murder in Jerusalem, by following the link below.
This book catapulted Ari Shavit into the international spotlight. The book was a New York Times best seller and listed by the Times in its “100 Notable Books of 2013.” The Economist named it as one of the best books of 2013 and it received the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award in History from the Jewish Book Council. It also won the Natan Book Award.
On this episode, Marcela reads an excerpt from Yaniv Iczkovits’s novel The Slaughterman’s Daughter: The Avenging of Mende Speismann by the Hand of her Sister Fanny. It is translated from the Hebrew by Orr Sharf.
The protagonist of this book is the titular character, Fanny Keismann, who leaves her home and her wonderful husband, a cheesemaker, and their beloved children, to find her sister’s husband. Adventures and misadventures ens...
Today, Marcela finishes the three-part series on Ayalet Tsabari’s wonderful memoir, The Art of Leaving, with her favorite thing: cooking! This episode unveils the secrets of Tsabari’s family kitchen. You’re going to want to take notes for this one!
In her introduction to Vaan Nguyen’s collection, Adriana X. Jacobs writes, “Nguyen’s poetry may circulate in the Anglophone literary market as part of an increasingly visible Vietnamese literary diaspora… And yet, introducing Nguyen’s poetry to the Anglophone reader needs to account for the particularities of the Vietnamese experience in Israel without letting it entirely overshadow her work.”
Between 1977 and 1979, approximately 3...
Have you seen the Crazy House on HaYarkon Street in Tel Aviv? It’s a highrise that looks like pink cement, with some metallic puffed cream lobbed at the front of it? Or at least that’s how it seems to Marcela.
It used to look that way to the poet Lali Tsipi Michaeli, as well. Michaeli says “fear is what I felt as a child every time I drove with my parents in a car on Hayarkon Street. As the car was about to reach the “crazy house” ...
Yishai Sarid’s The Memory Monster takes the form of a report by the narrator, a young Israeli Holocaust scholar, written to his superior from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, and raises ethical questions about the struggle to cope with the memory of the Holocaust.
School has begun, and once again children are learning how to read, encountering the alphabet for the first time. Hopefully it is a pleasant and magical time, but here is a story of a boy who feared his teacher, although he loved the alphabet.
It’s a chapter called The Alphabet and What Lies between the Lines, from Hayim Nahman Bialik’s unfinished Novella, Random Harvest.
As we labor under unbelievable pressures and uncertainties of the pandemic, especially women who have children at home, it might make us feel a little better to see that the writer Tehila Hakimi already envisioned what work in 2020 would be like back in 2018.
Here are some excerpts of her experimental, fragmentary text, COMPANY. It is addressed to a nameless “woman in a workspace”—that describes, head-on, the corporate work experie...
It’s Sukkot again! Over the years in this podcast we’ve focused on various aspects of this holiday — inviting guests, selecting an etrog, the transitory nature of our existence on earth. This time, Marcela focuses on the agricultural aspects — the festival was originally connected to the harvest. And to help us along is Rachel Bluwstein, Israel’s farmer-poet.
Flowers of Perhaps by Ra’hel. Translated by Robert Friend with Shim...
This week, amidst the holidays, Marcela celebrates by reading an excerpt from Ayelet Tsabari’s newly published memoir, The Art of Leaving.
On this episode, Marcela features Yochi Brandes’ ninth book, The Orchard. It is the second to be translated into English, this time by Daniel Libenson.
The Orchard tells the story of the venerated yet enigmatic Rabbi Akiva, placing him in the context of his contemporaries, the Sages of Jewish tradition and of early Christianity. Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Ishmael, Rabban Gamaliel, Paul of Tarsus, and many others.
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